Experiential Education for Student Pharmacists: CSHP’s Endeavours

Myrella Roy , BScPhm, PharmD, FCCP , Executive Director , Douglas Sellinger , BSP, MALT , President and External Liaison

We thank Hall and others1 for their thought-provoking article in the July–August 2012 issue of the Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy , which supports the endeavours of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP) over the past 8 years in advocating for a new approach to experiential education for student pharmacists. One of the 8 guiding principles proposed by Hall and others states that CSHP and the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada should be leaders in engaging various stakeholders to identify and address issues regarding experiential education in the hospital pharmacy setting. CSHP agrees with this principle, and we wish to highlight the Society’s endeavours in this regard.

In 2004, CSHP surveyed members who were hospital pharmacy directors across Canada to gauge their institutions’ capacity to accommodate more practical education for student pharmacists. Only 4 (12%) of 33 respondents indicated that they would be able to provide more comprehensive, longer, or additional clinical rotations. Inability to do so stemmed from lack of pharmacist practitioners, financial constraints, and other operational factors. These results were shared with participants in a symposium entitled “Managing the Change to Entry Level PharmD in Canada”, hosted by the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Toronto in November 2004.2 A similar survey conducted in 2009 yielded comparable results, with only 11 (15%) of 73 hospital pharmacy directors and managers indicating that they would be able to provide longer or more clinical practice rotations, arguing the same main concerns as in 2004.3 However, 46 (63%) of the respondents expressed their willingness to work with academic institutions in developing innovative models of experiential education for student pharmacists.

Hospital pharmacists have long played a pivotal role as providers of experiential education. So, since 2004, CSHP has taken every opportunity, both formally and informally, to convey to stakeholders the concerns of the hospital pharmacy community related to its capacity to expand experiential education for student pharmacists in the hospital setting. Furthermore, the Society has collaboratively sought solutions to mitigate these concerns. In particular, an advocacy campaign was conducted in 2006 to engage elected officials and senior bureaucrats in provincial ministries of health and of education, executive officers of academic institutions and associations, hospital leaders, and the broad pharmacy community in discussions on the impact of the increased demand for experiential education on hospital pharmacy, the desire of hospital pharmacists to partake in the planning of pharmacy educational programs with enhanced experiential learning components, and the pressing need for enhanced funding to supplement hospital pharmacy staffing for the provision of experiential programs (www.cshp.ca/advocacy/campaigns/experiential_e.asp). Then, in 2010, CSHP and the Association of Deans of Pharmacy of Canada (ADPC) convened a think tank on student pharmacist experiential education, which involved deans of pharmacy, pharmacy preceptors, and directors and managers of hospital pharmacy. A follow-up meeting with ADPC and Pharmacy Experiential Programs of Canada (PEP Canada) later that same year yielded a series of recommendations and an action plan to help resolve current and future issues of capacity and workload associated with experiential education for student pharmacists in hospitals.

Wiser for its experience as an original partner in the Blueprint for Pharmacy initiative, CSHP submitted a proposal entitled “Enhancing and Building Capacity for Experiential Education of Student Pharmacists in Canadian Hospitals” to the Blueprint Steering Committee. Although this proposal remains as yet unfunded, an auxiliary project subsequently submitted by PEP Canada has received funding, as alluded to by Hall and others,1 which allowed the presentation of an invitational workshop on October 17, 2012. Building on actions and ideas generated at the February 2010 think tank, the objective of the workshop was to explore and debate the design of various experiential models and concepts with a focus on enhancing capacity, while maintaining or strengthening students’ learning and the value to the practice sites. Two CSHP representatives participated in the workshop.

CSHP encourages more Canadian hospital pharmacists to experiment with innovative models aiming to increase the capacity of hospital pharmacies and pharmacists in providing high-quality experiential education to student pharmacists in entry-to-practice and advanced practice programs.4,5 In keeping with its “Statement on Collaborative Development, Delivery, and Evaluation of Pharmacy Curricula”,6 mentioned by Hall and others,1 CSHP is intent on continuing to collaborate with educational institutions, accreditors of educational programs, and regulatory authorities in designing educational curricula that will graduate pharmacists well prepared to fulfill their scope of practice, to meet the needs of today’s health care environment, and to ensure the safe and effective use of medications by patients.


1. Hall K, Musing E, Miller DA, Tisdale JE. Experiential training for pharmacy students: time for a new approach. Can J Hosp Pharm 2012;65(4):285–293.

2. Pharmacy education in the future: managing the change to entry level PharmD in Canada [slide presentation]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists; 2004 [cited 2012 Nov 7]. Available from: www.cshp.ca/advocacy/campaigns/experiential_e.asp. Select “Presentation” from the options shown.  

3. Howorko J, Higgins SD, MacKinnon NJ, Roy M. Perceived demands for practice experiential education: results from a national survey of hospital pharmacy directors [abstract]. Can J Hosp Pharm 2010;63(1):75–76.

4. Lindblad AJ, Howorko JM, Cashin RP, Ehlers CJ, Cox CE. Development and evaluation of a student pharmacist clinical teaching unit utilizing peer-assisted learning. Can J Hosp Pharm 2011;64(6):446–450.

5. Leong C, Battistella M, Austin Z. Implementation of a near-peer teaching model in pharmacy education: experiences and challenges. Can J Hosp Pharm 2012;65(5):394–398.

6. Education: statement on collaborative development, delivery, and evaluation of pharmacy curricula (2011). Ottawa (ON): Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists; 2011 [cited 2012 Oct 10]. Available from: www.cshp.ca/productsServices/officialPublications/type_e.asp. Select statement from list shown under “Statements (Open Access)”.  

Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists Ottawa, Ontario

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Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy , VOLUME 65 , NUMBER 6 , November-December 2012